At least once, maybe you have tried one of those “lose 10 pounds in one week” fad diets, or maybe you can’t stop chowing down at the buffet table at your favorite restaurant. Does that mean you, too, are among the millions of Americans who have an eating disorder?
At least 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States suffer from an eating disorder during their lifetime.
Eating disorders, such as binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, are not crash diets, a little phase or a lifestyle choice. They are life-threatening illnesses, and occur when your relationship with food reaches an extreme level.
Individuals who suffer from eating disorders are at the highest risk of premature death of all people who suffer from psychiatric disorders. Anyone who suffers from an eating disorder can experience uncommon emotions, attitudes and behaviors with weight loss/weight gain and food.
When most people think about eating disorders, they mostly think of anorexia or bulimia. But, what most people don’t realize is that today the most common eating disorder in the U.S. is binge eating disorder, which affects at least 2 million.
An individual who suffers from binge eating disorder experiences:
- Feelings of being out of control during binge eating episodes, such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort or eating alone because of shame.
- Strong emotions of shame or guilt regarding the binge episode
- Frequent episodes of consuming very large amounts of food, but without trying to prevent weight gain, such as extreme exercising or self-inflicted vomiting.
Symptoms of an individual who suffers from anorexia nervosa are:
- Intense fear of weight gain, obsession with weight and behaviors to prevent weight gain.
- Self-esteem issues related to body image.
- Inadequate food intake leading to a weight that is too low, yet most still believe they are still overweight.
An individual who suffers from bulimia nervosa experiences:
- Self-esteem related to body image
- Feeling out of control during the binge-eating episodes
- Episodes or consuming very large amounts of food followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-inflicted vomiting, the abuse of laxatives or diuretics.
The cause of eating disorders is still unknown; however, research suggests that it may be connected to genetics, depression, anxiety or environmental triggers, such as stress, abuse or seeing thin people in magazines or on television.
Anyone who is struggling with an eating disorder needs to seek professional help, and quickly. Individuals who seek treatment earlier after developing the disorder have a greater likelihood of recovery. Without any treatment, individuals could experience all three disorders—crossing over from one to another. Eating disorders can be treated with medication, psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy or group therapy.
If you suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, call Dr. Schumacher, M.D., at (614) 299-9909 to set up an appointment.